Don’t stop believing

I realize this is old news, but it makes me very, very happy.

That’s Journey, performing at Festival Viña del Mar in Chile, one of Latin America’s most popular music festivals. That’s not Steve Perry behind the mike, or Steve Augeri, or Jeff Scott Solo. It’s Arnel Pineda, who’s had a long career in the Filipino music scene, singing both his own material and covers from the American soft rock canon. Journey’s guitarist Neal Schoen was frustrated that his band was without a lead singer. It’s unclear whether he was influenced by Mark Wahlberg vehicle “Rock Star”, but he started listening to Journey cover bands, looking for a new singer.

On YouTube, he found the above video, which features Pineda fronting The Zoo, a Manila-based band known for 80’s soft rock covers and for their original tracks. Impressed with Pineda’s uncanny vocal resemblance to Steve Perry, Schoen contacted Pineda’s friend, who’d posted the videos to YouTube. He, in turn, contacted Pineda, who predictably thought he was the victim of a prank. Eventually persuaded, he flew to the US for a two-day audition and now fronts the band.

My hope for the internet is that it blurs the idea of nationality, letting people find the most talented collaborators around the world, regardless of their language, culture or national origin. Most of the time, this doesn’t happen – homophily reigns. It’s worth celebrating those moments when ageing America rockers realize that hooking up with a honey-voiced Filipino is the perfect path forward.

Oh, and for all you bands performing Joy Division in the style of Tuvan throat singing – don’t stop believing.

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9 Responses to Don’t stop believing

  1. Pingback: wayneandwax.com » links for 2008-02-24

  2. Birdseed says:

    That’s a fascinating story. All the related issues of potential fan racism and homophobia (I think I’m reading correctly between the lines that Pineda is gay, right?) which are alluded to in the Wikipedia article are also very interesting – the iconography of stadium rock definitely gets queered up (in a positive way) with a diminutive Filipino man fronting!

    The only danger I can see in a situation like this is the (post-)colonial sucking of talent from a poor nation to a rich one – the core country taking the (cultural) resources of the peripheral one. It happens all the time, less literally, with “world music” where musicians in the third world are made to produce for the western market, and I certainly do think it’s a significant problem. You’d never see The Eraserheads importing an exotic North American front man…

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  4. Hi Ethan,
    Nice Post .
    Small correction. Vine Del Mar is a festival, not a contest. I was in Chile in March last year and surprised by the adoration for 80s US rock bands and Tom Jones!

  5. Ethan says:

    Thanks, Leo. Made that change.

  6. Egay says:

    A reply to a gay issue about Arnel.

    He’s not gay, he got 3 son/daughter in his 1st relationship, his eldest is 18 yrs. old and another baby in his current relationship.

  7. Regay says:

    And how exactly does having children prove that he’s not gay?

  8. Ethan says:

    I think Egay was simply trying to clear up confusion about Arnel’s orientation, not to link parenthood and orientation.

    According to Wikipedia:
    “Arnel has three sons: Matthew (19 years), Angelo (11 years), and Cherub (2 years). When he’s not on tour with Journey, he lives in Quezon City, a suburb of Manila, with his girlfriend, Cherry, and their son, Cherub”
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnel_Pineda#Family)

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